Vaughn Palmer: Speculation tax letter will spray 1.6M to target 32,000, mostly locals

VICTORIA — Starting later this week, 1.6 million homeowners in Vancouver, Victoria and other communities targeted by the NDP speculation tax will get a letter they should not ignore or discard.

The contents, flagged “declare now,” are an invitation to apply for an exemption to the controversial tax.

Those who fail to apply, thinking they are longtime homeowners, not speculators, will be making a very expensive mistake.

The New Democrats intend to treat everyone who does not apply for an exemption as a “speculator,” then tax them to the maximum permitted under the legislation.

Accordingly, the tax notices will go out in April, payable by July 2. For the current year, the applicable speculation tax on a typical $500,000 condominium in Vancouver would be $2,500, and for a $1 million home in Victoria, figure $5,000.

Also, if the property is jointly owned, by spouses or by anyone else, each owner has to apply for the exemption, or they will be taxed on a proportional basis. So advised the Ministry of Finance in a Tuesday bulletin.

While the ministry posted similar information last October in tabling the enabling legislation for the tax, I expect many homeowners will be caught unaware.

Not thinking of themselves as speculators, they may not have realized how the New Democrats were adopting the logic of negative-option billing (which is banned for business purposes under consumer protection legislation).


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